Habitat for Humanity hosts National Women Build Week

Kathleen Ambre

Hickory frames give way to plastered drywalls; drills, hammers, and saws shape a home from the most basic of supplies. Transforming raw building materials into a beautiful home for families in need, thousands of women volunteers commit themselves each year to a week-long event at more than 200 Habitat for Humanity construction sites across the country.

Assembling women from all walks of life and teaching them the necessary skills to build homes for the unfortunate, Habitat’s second annual National Women Build Week has encouraged and motivated women to take at least one day out of a 10-day event to get involved in their community.

These women volunteers have made momentous contributions to their communities, furthering Habitat for Humanity’s home-building mission to over 1,400 houses nationwide.

What was once considered a specialized project for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity organization has grown to be recognized at an international level. “Here locally we’re expanding it from just a special build project to more of a build program…our Women Build volunteers simply want more opportunities to volunteer,” said Sharon Rolenc, public relations specialist for Habitat for Humanity located in the Twin Cities.

The program’s progress has allowed communities, such as the Twin Cities, to improve a number of new developments. The creation of a “regular crew” has attracted women willing to volunteer five days a week year round, and the leadership positions provided within these crews have resulted in a clearer sense of organization. “We are fortunate to have skilled women volunteers who can assume those crew leader positions,” said Rolenc, “when there are more crew leaders that are skilled, you can break up into teams and have more one-on-one attention.”

Thanks to the great number of women volunteers taking on influential leadership roles, the Women Build program is now able to welcome those lacking experience. The program provides instructional sessions on site in hope of generating a greater number of active, experienced women. “People come to the build site with all levels of experience and that’s why we cultivate more crew leaders because it’s much easier to navigate people who come through the program with no experience,” said Rolenc.

In addition to these new developments, Habitat has also created “Team Leader Day,” a day in which current volunteers encourage the people they know to become more involved. Participants prove to exceed normal expectations, recruiting a minimum of 13 friends to serve as a construction crew for a day and raising $1,500 collectively to go towards building materials. Having been a former staff member at Habitat and a part of this program for three years now, Sharon Rolenc has participated in this special event on many occasions. “It’s fun to be out there; last year for my 40th birthday I did a Team Leader Day with friends. We actually surpassed our goal. We raised over $8,200, so that was a lot of fun,” said Rolenc.

When considering the eager efforts of thousands of volunteers and the generosity of just-as-charitable local and national sponsors, the future of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program looks bright. By providing a supportive environment for women to give of their abilities and a remarkable opportunity to give back to one’s community, Women Build bears great potential. “What I love about this program is that it’s such a tangible contribution to the community, and by supporting Habitat I know that my contribution is going to last beyond my lifetime,” said Rolenc, “I don’t know if there’s any other organization I can say that about.”